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New PDR should have been in a planning bill, says Lords committee

Words: Laura Edgar
Upwards extensions / iStock-115939402

Given the government’s plans to reform the planning system, it would have been ‘more appropriate’ to set out recent legislative changes, such as recent extensions to permitted development rights (PDR), in a future planning bill.

This is according to the Lords Secondary Legislation Committee, which scrutinises policy aspects of all secondary legislation put before Parliament.

Its report highlights concerns regarding recent extensions to PDR as well as other changes. The regulations allow for: 

  • Upwards extensions to residential dwellings.
  • Demolishing certain buildings and replacing them with housing.
  • Changing the use of some buildings in town centres. This could be changing an office to a restaurant.

The changes mean that planning permission for such works is not required from the local planning authority.

The committee says it understands that the measures are intended to speed up the delivery of housing, as well as support the economy after the Covid-19 pandemic. However, it explains that it is concerned that the legislation could lead to low-quality housing being built. 

In addition, the Lords contend that the measures could lead to an increased concentration of restaurants, including fast-food outlets – which would affect the health of local residents – and reduce the ability of local authorities to shape their high streets.

Taking into account the government’s planning reforms outlined in its planning white paper, Planning for the Future, which is currently under consultation, the Lords conclude that it would have been more appropriate to “take forward the significant and far-reaching changes made by these instruments in a future planning bill, enabling Parliament to scrutinise the changes more fully”.

Lord German, a member of the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, said: “These instruments are deregulatory in effect and make substantial and wide-ranging changes to planning law. While we acknowledge that the government’s intention is to encourage economic growth and address housing shortages, concerns have been raised that these changes could result in low-quality housing and reduce the ability of local authorities to shape the character of their high streets. And the growth of fast-food restaurants in some communities may have local health implications for its residents as well. 

“We are in no doubt that the House will wish to press the minister for an assurance that the concerns raised have been considered and that safeguards are in place to ensure that they are fully met.

“Given the significance of these changes, we have also queried whether they should have been implemented through primary rather than secondary legislation and therefore afforded the much more thorough scrutiny to which bills are subject.”

Read more:

Legislation outlined for permitted upward extensions in England

Report commissioned by MHCLG concludes PD homes provide a ‘poor residential experience’

RTPI: Permitted development will hit the vulnerable hardest

Johnson outlines plans to change the use classes order  

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